GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) – In 44 years as a firefighter, Damascus Fire Department Lieutenant and EMT Tom Mather had never had anyone he was trying to help lay a hand on him, until this past January.
“The one gentleman was getting a little irate, so we asked PD to step in and help us a little bit,” Mather said. “And they got in the back of the car and we thought we had everything calmed down.”
Damascus EMTs and Goshen Township Police were responding to a call of an intoxicated man who had been beat up and needed to go to the hospital.
But soon, Tom was the one needing help.
“Just all at once he decided that I must not have been his favorite person and he kinda lunged at me,” Mather said.
Right in the back of the ambulance, with an officer beside him, the suspect punched Mather in the face. That officer was wearing a camera.
“I thought it was a blessing because surely it has to save paperwork,” Mather said. “A picture’s worth a thousand words.”
It’s been just over six months since Goshen Township Police started using lapel cameras to monitor what happens on their calls.They say the program has been a big success, helping both in court, and in officer training.
“We were able to not only use that as evidence for the conviction but also as training for the officers, what they could have done differently leading up to that,” Goshen Township Police Corporal Nicholas Brent said.
And for a small department with young officers, that training is important.
“We don’t have big training budgets where we can all get together and go to classes sometimes,” Brent said. “Also, if we do have budgeted money for that. We can’t all go because we still need to police the areas.”
As for Mather, he is doing fine. The suspect spent some time in jail, and the video helped put him there.
“There’s no beating around the bush,” Mather said. “When you can see the actual footage and you can see how everyone tried to help in the situation and see how the situation kind of went sour, there’s no argument.”